In 1942 (before wartime rationing) Americans consumed just over 1 pound of sugar per person per week. Today, Americans consume 3 pounds of sugar per person per week.
The average adult consumes 22 tsp/day and the average child consumes 32 tsp/day.
So with all this talk about our out-of-control sweet tooth, is there any room for dessert in a healthful diet? Yes. A diet that completely eliminates desserts sets you up for failure and to be honest, a more dreary existence.
1. Don’t drink your sugar. 33% of the sugar in our diet comes from soft drinks.
2. Cut back on processed foods. The more processed your foods are, the more sugar, salt and fat they contain. Check the labels and make sure that particularly for non-dessert items, sugar doesn’t top the ingredient list.
3. Don’t be a dessert-at-every-meal junkie. You don’t need dessert at breakfast (a lot of “breakfast” foods really are dessert foods. Just take a look at the labels – strudel, tart, cookie, and bar are all dessert terms that you will find in the breakfast aisle). You don’t need dessert after breakfast, after your mid-morning snack, and after lunch, and after dinner and at bedtime.
4. Be portion-savvy. If you have a hard time limiting yourself to a reasonable portion-size when it comes to dessert, try a pre-portioned option. For example, I have a sweet tooth and a little chocolate at lunch boosts my satiety and morale during the day. Having a portion-controlled dessert option can really help satisfy that craving without going overboard.
5. Keep the flavor and nutrition high in your desserts. Choose fruit and nut-based desserts that will offer more fiber, more vitamins and minerals and be more satisfying visually as and taste-wise as well. For example, a fruit based pie, chocolate dipped strawberries, a cookie filled with dark chocolate chunks, dried cherries and almonds, baked apples, blended fruit sorbet, chocolate-covered nuts, etc.
Choosing dessert foods with fruit and nuts doesn’t mean that they are suddenly healthful-go-to foods to be eaten with abandon all day long, but it does ensure that you get more bang for your buck when you savor that occasional dessert.
Following the 80/20 or 90/10 rule applies well with desserts. 80-90% of the time, you drink water, eat a good variety of fruits, veggies & whole grains. You exercise, are active and heed your body’s hunger and fullness signals. 10-20% of the time you splurge a bit. You order dessert, or enjoy the buffet at your friend’s wedding. A reasonable balance ensures that you maintain not only life long good health, but happiness as well.